Davao prepares for extended drought

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 May) – The City Agriculturist’s Office will be asking the City Mayor’s Office for funds to buy mobile irrigation facilities that could be distributed to the farming districts, in anticipation of the extended drought being predicted by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

“We were told that there would be another drought that would be coming in the last quarter of the year,” Tabay said.

In a telephone interview Thursday, CAO head Rocelio Tabay said each irrigation facility could help mitigate any damage to the city’s crops, with each equipment able to water one hectare of farm land per day.

Tabay said the office was still preparing the request, as well as consolidated data on the damage of this year’s first phase of El Nino which hit the region during the first and second quarter.

The city official said that PAGASA reported during this week’s conference on climate change, sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, that the drought would extend into the third quarter.

As of May this year, damage to crops have been estimated to have reached at least P2 million, Tabay said.

The total potential damage to the crops in the city could reach billions, according to the official in an earlier interview.

The city had earlier asked the DA for cloud seeding over Davao to protect the city’s 7,000-hectare farm areas.

The dry spell threatened to affect 11,151 farmers working in 7,075.15 hectares of farmlands in Paquibato, Marilog, Toril, Tugbok and Baguio Districts.

The crop most affected by the dry spell were high value crops comprising fruits, industrial crops, legumes, root crops and vegetables.

The CAO earlier estimated that around 2,501 farmers would be affected by the dry spell.

Tabay also said that farmers could ask the CAO for help in packaging their irrigation programs, with funding from the city’s calamity funds.

The revised guidelines on the use of calamity funds could allow farmers to design irrigation measures in anticipation of climate change phenomenon such as El Nino, he said.